As technology improves, the number of light bulb options continues to increase. If you find yourself asking which light bulb is right for you – read on to learn about the different types of light bulbs.
♦ Most commonly used type of bulb
♦ 100 CRI
♦ Least energy efficient
♦ Lasts about 1 year or 700 – 1,000 hours
♦ Least expensive initially, but high energy cost over time
♦ Light Emitting Diode
♦ Many are dimmable
♦ Most energy efficient
♦ High CRI
♦ Lasts up to 20+ years or 50,000+ hours
♦ Available in a wide variety of color temperatures
♦ High initial cost but most economical for long term use
♦ An advanced form of incandescent
♦ Colors appear sharper
♦ Small and lightweight
♦ Longer life and slightly more energy efficient than conventional incandescents
♦ Often used in undercabinet, track and recessed lighting
♦ Compact Fluorescent Lamp
♦ Not dimmable
♦ Lower CRI
♦ More energy efficient than incandescents
♦ Lasts up to 9 years
♦ Can save up to 75% a year in energy costs
♦ High initial cost
Incandescent bulbs are the standard light bulbs that you have probably used in your home forever. They are still the most commonly used, but they are also the least energy efficient. They produce light with an electric current that heats the filament to a temperature that produces light. Incandescent bulbs last only about 1,000 hours and are therefore the least expensive option upfront. Since they are associated with high energy costs and need to be replaced every few months, they can end up costing more in the long run.
LED, which stands for Light Emitting Diode, uses the newest technology to produce light. LED bulbs are the most energy efficient and last the longest (up to 20+ years or 50,000 hours!). A major benefit of LED technology is the wide range of kelvin temperatures, meaning you can choose the color temperature of the light to produce the most flattering glow. LEDs tend to have a higher color rendering incdex (CRI). Light sources with a higher CRI will make colors appear more crisp and clear. While LED light bulbs will have a higher initial price tag, you won’t have to worry about constantly changing the bulbs.
Halogen bulbs use the same amount of power as incandescent bulbs, but have the benefits of a longer life and color temperature options. Halogen bulbs are filled with a halogen gas that is then heated up when the light is turned on. The increased heat allows the bulbs to reach a higher color temperature and better color rendering index.
Compact Fluorescent Lamps, or CFL bulbs, use a fraction of the energy of an incandescent bulb and last about 8 times longer. However, CFLs use mercury to generate invisible ultraviolet light that reacts with a fluorescent coating to produce visible light. The mercury inside of the bulb is a potential hazard to the environment, so CFL bulbs cannot be disposed of in trash cans or recycling bins. It is also important to note that CFL bulbs are not dimmable.
Light Bulb Shapes and Sizes
A-Type bulbs are the most commonly used types of light bulbs. These are standard light bulbs with a pear-shaped glass and screw in base. The number that comes after “A” (such as A19 or A21), indicates the size and shape of the bulb. A21s are slightly larger than A19s.
Candelabra base bulbs are typically used in chandeliers and wall sconces. These bulbs often resemble candle flames and are commonly used for decorative purposes. Choose from torpedo or flame tip (shown to the right) to complete the look.
MR stands for multifaceted reflector. The small size of the bulb and the beam control makes MR16s very popular. They are commonly used in track lighting and recessed lighting applications.
PAR stands for parabolic aluminized reflector and the number that comes after that indicates the size of the bulb. BR stands for bulged reflector. BR bulbs tend to stick or bulge out of the recessed cans while PARs have a flat lens over the front so they are flush with the ceiling.
Spotlights cast a narrow, concentrated beam of light, while flood lights cast a wide beam spread. Use spot lights when highlighting particular objects or illuminating artwork and architectural details. Flood lights can produce a beam spread of up to 120 degrees and are appropriate for casting light over larger areas such as outdoor spaces.